Friday, 28 February 2014

The Plight and Charm of East Timor

Nothing is easy about East Timor (Timor-Leste in the locally preferred Portuguese) and that’s both its blessing and its curse. Independence hasn't been simple; years spent under Portuguese and Indonesian thumbs have been burdened by tragedy, and recent history shows why you can’t just declare yourself a new country (as happened in 2002) and expect things to be hunky-dory. 

Travelers will experience some of the challenges the Timorese contend with on a daily basis, and that may be the best reason to visit. The tourism infrastructure is barely developed, yet there’s just enough for the adventurous to experience this beautiful place without undue travail. The diving is magnificent, the countryside superb and the people genuinely welcoming. Once you've had your fill of the capital, head east of Dili and discover the country's best beaches, or head out to Atauro Island for some great snorkeling. And just as the locals have found ways to get by, you will too – which only makes your journey more rewarding.

Sure the roads are crap and getting from one place to another can take forever, but the flip side is that you’ll rarely be following in others’ footsteps. You can get into the unique cultural rhythm that combines European and Asian beats. There’s a nod and a wave from everyone you meet. Soon you’ll realize that what’s easiest about East Timor is its charm.

Source: Lonelyplanet | Image credits: 1 2 3 4 5 6 

Linapacan Island in Palawan

Linapacan is a medium - sized island in the Calamianes group, located between Coron to the north and the Palawan mainland to the south. It’s one of those islands which rarely sees a tourist, as there’s no public ferry or air travel. Getting there can be a bit hit-and-miss, particularly if the weather is bad. 


The snorkelling is just off the shore. Some good corals, and the marine life was spectacular. The people are friendly too. Great for island hopping, including a trip to the ruins of an old Spanish fort, good beaches, some caves to explore. 


There is a marine reserve just off the pier at San Miguel, the main town on Linapacan. There is no beach to talk of in the town, and the reef is about 150 metres from the pier. Very shallow at first, with sea grass and small coral growth, starfish, etc, then an area of dead coral, then you reach the drop-off which has some good coral formations. But it is the marine life which makes this place special. Eels, large barracuda-like fish, pipe fish, plenty of colourful tropical fish, including schools of batfish, ribbon fish.

Island hopping

It’s easy to hire a banca to go island hopping. Costs vary depending on the size of the boat and distance travelled. The main expense is the fuel, which sells for 240 pesos a gallon. You could easily use 5 – 10 gallons in a day, so the cost depends on the distance you want to travel. A rough estimate would be 1,500 to 2,500 pesos for a day.

There are ruins of an old 18th century Spanish fort at Caseledan on Linapacan Island, very much overgrown by vines, with only the walls and a well remaining. It is near a pearl farm. The water was so clear; you can catch a large crayfish by hand.


There is a long white sandy beach on Patao Island, less than a kilometre across from San Miguel. You can arrange for a banca to drop you off there in the morning and collect you in the afternoon but you have to take your own food and water. There are some reports of good snorkelling off this beach.

Source: Lonelyplanet | Image credits: 1 2 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Beautiful Beaches in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville – Cambodia is a port city also known as Kampong Som. This province is flanked by beaches and islands thereby making it an excellent beach holiday getaway for travelers from all parts of the world. It is situated south of the country on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand. It is approximately one hundred and eighty-five kilometers or roughly about one hundred and fifteen miles off the southwestern parts of the country’s capital city of Phnom Penh.

Beaches are the top tourist spots in Sihanoukville. You can check out Ocheteaul Beach located on the eastern section of the province. There are beach stands and chairs here where you can have a taste of Khmer cuisine.

Other beaches to check out are Victory Beach which is close to the city port; Serendipity Beach where there is an abundance of Western-inspired bars and diners; and Hawaii Beach where you can rent small boats to explore the islands.

Sihanoukville – Cambodia, considered as the biggest resort town in the country; got its name from King Norodom Sihanouk, known as the “Father of the Nation.” It's actually a new city in the country since it was established only in the year 1960, after it gained independence from France as a port. This enabled the province to enter into international trades. The port was built in 1955 and the workers remained here hence; they were the very first settlers in the province. This port has become an important trade route for Cambodia thereby greatly helping in developing the country’s economy.

Source: touristspots | Image credits: 1 2 3 

The Waterfall of Toilet Bowls in China

Foshan, a city in central Guangdong province in China, has one of the strangest public art - a fountain built out of 10,000 recycled toilets, sinks and urinals covering a wall 100 meters long and almost 5 meters high. The fountain/waterfall was originally designed for the 2009 Foshan Pottery and Porcelain Festival, a porcelain product tradeshow, before being installed as a permanent piece of public art. It is just one of the many impressive ceramic sculptures residing in Shiwan Park.

The “art piece” was created by Chinese artist Shu Yong, who along with his team, spent 2 months installing the toilets. The toilets are a mixture of unwanted factory seconds and ones donated by foreigners and locals. All the toilets and urinals are actually connected to a tap so that they could be flushed. The installation is flooded periodically, creating a cascading

Source: amusingplanet | Image credits: 1 2 3 4 

REN: People's Building, Shanghai, China

The REN building is a proposal for a hotel, leisure and conference centre for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The building is conceived as two buildings merging into one.

The first building, emerging from the water, is devoted to the activities of the body and houses a water culture centre. The second building, emerging from land, is devoted to spirit and enlightenment and houses the conference centre and meeting facilities. The two buildings meet in a 1,000-room hotel and form the Chinese character for 'People', becoming a recognisable landmark for the World Expo in China.

Together, the two buildings become a tower and an arch at once. The arch defines a square for gatherings and activities, exactly on the main axis of the expo site overlooking the HuangPu River. The square is sheltered from the rain but allows sunlight through, from the east in the morning and from the west in the evening.

Large curved plazas border the pool and conference buildings, creating a continuous recreational public space along the river. Round openings and skylights bring light to the auditoriums and pools and gradually become denser as they rise from the river, eventually becoming windows and terraces for the hotel rooms.

The project questions whether architecture can embody the schizophrenic political identity of the People's Republic of China at once: Tao, Mao and Capitalism. 

A modernist slab is cleaved in two, forming the Chinese character for people 人 (“ren”). The principle of Yin Yang and the five elements of Feng Shui are embedded in the architecture, creating a link between the ancient wisdom and the contemporary euphoria of Chinese culture.

The REN building could be the Eiffel Tower of Shanghai, a landmark symbolizing the people-oriented pursuit of the Shanghai Expo 2010.

Source: designbuild-network | Image credits: 1 2 

Flag Clouds and Red Snow of Mount Everest

The Vane of the World

When the weather is pleasant, one can always sees milky white flag-shaped clouds on the top of Mount Everest. Prevailing winds from the west blow the cloud east like a billowing flag attached to the mountain. Ascending airflow caused by the mountains creates the cloud. Blowing snow could also create the cloud.

The Mount Everest flag cloud posture is multifarious, looking like flags that flutter in the breeze sometimes, sometimes like a great wave; Turning into slender and graceful smoke at times. Because the change of the flag cloud can reflect the change in the high air-flows, the Mount Everest flag cloud is known as "the supreme vane of the world".

The Crimson Top

The surface of the Himalayas above 5,000 meters often dots with blood red spots and looks like red snow from afar. These red spots consist of Chlamydomonas nivalis, Chlorococcum infusionum, and other algae. In permanent ice and snow, the highland algae are widely distributed with strong cold resistance and does not die when the temperature is 36 degrees below zero celsius. The algae contain sanguine pigment in their bodies, so they are red in appearance.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Mekong Discovery Trail: A Cambodian Eco-journey

A 230-kilometer path traversing the north-east of Cambodia along the fabled Mekong River, the Mekong Discovery Trail is an exciting opportunity to combine cycling and cultural community-based tourism.

The trail starts at the Laos border and takes you into the heart of the Mekong, with ample opportunities for homestays in traditional villages and chances to see the Critically Endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. Along the trail, cyclists and those who choose the less eco-friendly method of taking a motorbike can stop along the way to trek on foot through the surrounding jungle, sample local cuisine and fresh fruit from village markets, and take in the gorgeous scenery along the Mekong.

One of the highlights of the Mekong Discovery Trail is the chance to spot the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, a smaller relative of the orca, which inhabits both freshwater and coastal oceanic habitats. The Irrawaddy’s cute rounded head and perpetual smile make it look a bit like a Japanese cartoon character. Its plight is far from a fairytale, however. 

One of the best places to spot an Irrawaddy is near the former French colonial town and provincial capital of Kratié. Though not developed for commercial tourism, Kratié is well known on the backpacker circuit. Things to do in and around Kratié include visiting the local basket weaving villages, dolphin boat trip tours, visiting the Phonom Sombok temple and the archeological site of Sambor, an ancient settlement with several temples. 

There is not a lot of information available online regarding the Mekong Discovery Trail aside from some trip diaries and a few commercial sites. It’s not a very developed region for mass tourism or anything, but you won’t be a trailblazer either. However, if you fancy a bit of bicycle trek, exploring at your own pace and interacting with local village culture, it may be just the thing for you. Trips along the trail also have the advantage of directly benefitting the local community and have minimal negative impact on the environment. 

Source: travelwireasia | Image credits: Jan-one, CRDTKratie

The Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit

Embarking on a journey to Bangkok, Thailand can be both compelling and unforgettable; both a leisure trip and a spiritual voyage. A visit to Thailand will not be complete without seeing one of its national treasures: the Golden Buddha. Housed in Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple), the Golden Buddha is made of solid gold and weighs about five-and-a-half tons.

Since Thailand is home to a number of Buddhist temples, the Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit holds its own special significance; not only because it is made of gold, but it's also one of the world’s biggest golden icons.

Visitors looking for a break from the hustle-bustle of daily life will find that visiting Wat Traimit and its gracefully seated Buddha as a one-of-a-kind experience. The temple's serene atmosphere and historical importance make the visit unique and interesting.

During the Burmese invasion, the Golden Buddha statue was completely plastered over to prevent it from being stolen. The statue then remained among the ruins of Ayutthaya without attracting much attention. At the time of King Rama III, the statue, still covered with plaster, was installed as the principal Buddha image in the main temple building of Wat Chotanaram in Bangkok. After Wat Chotanaram fell into disrepair and was closed, the statue had been moved to its present location at the nearby Wat Traimit in 1935. There it was kept for 20 years under a simple tin roof and it seemed that the true identity of this statue had been forgotten for almost 200 years.

In 1954, a new building was built at the Temple, so it was decided to house the statue there. The statue was being moved to its new location on 25 May 1955. There are a variety of accounts of what exactly happened during the move. But it is clear that, during the final attempt to lift the statue from its pedestal, the ropes holding the statue broke, and the statue fell down hard on the ground. At that time, some of the plaster coating of the statue chipped off, allowing the gold surface underneath to be seen and providing evidence that beneath the plaster the statue was gold. 

The time when the gold statue was revealed was very close to the commemoration of the twenty-fifth Buddhist Era (2500 years since Gautama Buddha's passing). The Thai news media at the time was full of reports about this event, and many Buddhists regarded such an occurrence as miraculous. On 14 February 2010, a large new building was inaugurated at the Wat Traimit Temple to house the Golden Buddha.

Sources: famouswonderswikipedia | Image credits: 1 2 3 

The Flying Dragon of Southeast Asia

Draco volans, commonly known as the flying dragon, is a species of lizard endemic to Southeast Asia. It is a member of the genus of gliding lizards Draco. It can spread out folds of skin attached to its movable ribs to form "wings" that it uses to glide from tree to tree over distances upwards of 8 metres (26 ft); however, like all modern reptiles, it lacks the ability to sustain powered flight, and is capable only of gliding.

In order to move from one place to another, Flying Dragons will spread the skin flaps along their abdomens and glide out of trees or from other high areas. They never glide when it is raining or when it is windy. When the Flying Dragon is about to take off, it will point its head toward the ground.

Its wings are brightly coloured with orange, red and blue spots and stripes, and they provide camouflage when folded. The flying dragon can reach a total length of up to 23 centimetres (9.1 in). It feeds on arboreal ants and termites. They catch their prey by sitting under a tree until an insect passes by, and then they consume it with their short sticky tongues.

The flying dragon does not give live birth. During the breeding season an adult female will venture down to the forest floor and lay 1-5 eggs, which it buries in the soil. The number of eggs usually depends on how good that particular lizard's habitat and surroundings are. 

A flying dragon's eggs can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to hatch. A flying dragon hatchling will weigh around 2 grams, depending on how good the conditions were while laying the eggs and other factors. The female flying dragon will only guard her nest for at the most a couple of days before abandoning the nest. She does not return very often to care for her young. The flying dragon's life span is currently unknown.

Draco volans is found from the Philippines to Malaysia and Indonesia. Many species of flying dragon (genus Draco) are native to the southwest tropical forests of Asia and India, including Borneo and the Philippine Islands.

Sources: wikipediasciencedump 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

10 Stunning Pictures from India

Badrinath road.

A lonely tourist.

Young ones in rural area.

View from the roof top.

Pangong Tso, Ladakh

~ Namaste /\ 900th For TE ~

Foot prints of Lord Vishnu in Badrinath.

Jharbati - the bunch of light.

The wild tusker.

Birds of more than a feather.

Image credits: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10